Monday, December 30, 2013

Jump School Fun!

Today's jump school was (go ahead, guess what I'm about to say...) amazing!  It was just a couple of small verticles and an oxer, we worked on rhythm, distances, and the quality of his jump.  Soon's still a little wiggly to the jumps so keeping him straight is something I have to be very conscious about, but he's so bloody steady it blows my mind.  I love his metronome canter - he's soft on the approach and soft going away.  Heaven.  Whether he's long or short to the fence, he doesn't panic and rush, just takes the jump from the required distance and keeps on trucking.  I was a little long on one jump, but he took a joke and jumped nicely out of it.  The rest of our distances were quieter, which is nice at this stage because he learns to jump up and around, instead of leaving long and jumping flat.  He is very adjustable off the seat and leg, so getting something quiet is easy as all I have to do is sit up and support him with my leg.  Just like on the flat, he doesn't require much rein when jumping.

I'll need to work more on controlling his shoulders, as we fell out through a couple of turns and had to circle because the approach was all kinds of crooked.  It's kind of like a Navy pilot calling the approach to land his jet on an aircraft carrier - you get to a point where you know the turn and the approach aren't good, and better to waive off and try again than try to jump your way out of it, especially with a green horse.  No need to get them confused, flustered, and turned inside out because you want them to jump off a crooked approach.  Those were the only not so hot moments of the school (and it wasn't that bad), and really falls on me because I need to plan that turn and balance better.  I'll get there.

The reality is, not having jumped and trained consistently in probably five years has really taken its toll on my feel.  My brain and body know what I need to do, they just don't communicate well right now.  My brain is late identifying it, and my body is late in executing, which results in a right mess as you can imagine.  We had a long approach to a single oxer, and after I round the turn and was on the straight approach I thought to myself, "Wow, I really should have carried more pace through that turn," which of course is about 60 feet too late for me to be making that observation.  By then, I'm 30 feet from the fence with an entirely different canter from what I had in the corner, and trying to dig myself out of a hole.  Thankfully, when I sit up and ask Soonie to wait for the quiet distance, he says "Yes Ma'am," and does it.  Good boy.

"You fed me yucky so now
you feed me cookies"
It's nice to have educated eyes on the ground at this point as it's good to have someone to bounce ideas off of and identify things like a lack of pace.  After that validation, I did it again with more impulsion in the canter and boom, perfect distances every time on that horse.  Easy, soft, and smooth.  Soon is nothing if not uncomplicated to the jumps.  I was extremely pleased with how he felt today, how he rode, and the fact I was smiling almost the entire ride (and when I wasn't smiling, it's because I was busy trying to think).  That enjoyment is what is important.  This little horse tries so freaking hard, and he is such a joy to work with.  He seems to really love this jumping stuff and is super honest about everything.  The feeling I get riding such a nice jumper really makes me feel great.  Love him.

And afterward as a reward...Soonie got wormed.  YAY!  He did not approve, in fact, he protested by the door afterward as if to say "Hey, that was icky and I think you should apologize."  So I tried apologizing with a peppermint, which Pretty Pretty Princess refused because he was pouting.  Wormer is icky, but he won't eat anything afterward unless it's a horse cookie, which I ran out of because I didn't know it was worming day.  He is a horse treat elitist.  So I got him a handful of grain (which he normally gobbles up), and he picked at it slowly like a kid poking around at their veggies.

I gave him dinner afterward, and all was well in the kingdom again and he got over it.  But not before I took a picture of him looking like crack addict Tyrone Biggums.

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